A very tragic tale out of California this morning tells us an animal park intern with only a few weeks on the job was killed yesterday by a lion in her care. 24 year old Dianna Hanson had entered the cage of the male African Lion, Cous Cous, by herself when she was badly mauled by the animal. It is not clear why she had entered the enclosure, or if she was doing so in accordance with the animal parks policies. The park, called Cat Haven, has been in existence since 1993, and has a good record on care and safety with the state.
When deputies arrived, they could not reach the badly injured woman, as the lion was still in the cage with her. Another park worker tried to lure the big animal away to another enclosure, but was unable to do so.
The deputies then shot and killed the lion.
Unfortunately they were unable to save Ms. Hanson. She died at the scene.
Of course, no California story would be complete without a quote from a former celebrity turned topic expert, and this one is no exception. Actress Tippi Hedren was quoted as expressing “dismay over the killing of the lion” saying “It wasn’t the lion’s fault. It’s the human’s fault always”. Ms. Hedren, best known for her work in Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds”, where it was also presumably the humans fault, is no stranger to wild animals. In addition to dealing with the Hollywood elite of her day, she founded the Shambala Preserve in Southern California, which is apparently home to 53 seized or abandoned exotic pets.
No word if it hosts any retired show monkeys. I hope so. Everybody likes monkeys.
I understand that it is sad to know that the lion died as the result of this attack. It's unfortunate. However, to immediately pile on and criticize the deputies involved over this incident is unfair. Whether Ms. Hedren and her ilk like it or not, we have kind of positioned ourselves at the top of the food chain. One of our kind was injured and in need of help, and the lion was being a bit pissy about it. One would hardly expect the deputies to leave a card with instructions to call them back when the lion went down for his nap.
In coming days investigators will determine what went wrong here, and if any rules or safety procedures were violated. It is too soon to assess who should have done what, and for whom. I do know that many jobs are dangerous, and working with wild animals, even those raised in captivity, is not something to be taken lightly. Even if this poor woman was found to have made what was ultimately a fatal mistake, she couldn't be abandoned because of it. It is the ultimate no fault principal.
No, as sad as it was, the lion had to die.